What does it mean to be gay?

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Person in city skyline

Figure 1: Person in city skyline

I, as you can guess if you have read the title, am gay. I am very deep in the closet though, so you won’t know who I am. At the moment, I am facing a conundrum. The people I wish would read this, will see the word ‘gay’ and skip the article. Because people are scared of, and criticize, what they do not understand. The first time I read the word gay in the sexuality context, was sometime in late October in 2007. I was in school and reading the N.I.E. paper which my school subscribed to. Someone I really, really loved had just been ‘outed’, it was Dumbledore. The headline went something like ‘Hogwarts headmaster is gay’. Although the article made clear what the word meant, I still looked it up in my Pocket Oxford English Dictionary. I was filled with joy and then an instant later, fear. I knew I wasn’t a glitch, an outlier, in fact I even had a term I could use to refer to myself. I was gay. And being gay was’t bad, my favorite person in the entire fictional universe was gay too, and he was the mightiest wizard there was. But I was frightened because if someone could see the jubilation on my face while reading that article, they would know I was gay. And that would give my secret away.

Let me give you a primer on what it means to be in the closet. Have you ever while walking on the street, saw someone so pretty that your gaze was arrested? I can’t do that, as that will give me away. I have to maintain a pink-free zone around me, lest someone associate that color with me being gay. I can’t give my best friend a hug, when he leaves for a foreign shore, because maybe that will give me away. I have even mugged up a list of female porn-stars just so that when needed I can show that I know stuff. It is silly I agree, and I know I am being paranoid.

But being who I am is considered criminal in our society. It is mocked at and stereotyped to a caricature. All that I am, my abilities, my thoughts are lost as soon as I say that I am gay; what is left is an image of a thin hip swaying, limp wrist-ed predator of men and a threat to “Indian culture”, a product of western influence. My entire existence is reduced to politics or a punchline.

Humans for ever have created divisions when there were none. I think that most damning segregation occurs, when a part of the society decides that its lifestyle is normal and all other deviant forms, abnormal. And then tries to cure and save the abnormal kind. The LGBT movement might seem to the straight inhabitant of the circle unnecessary. But at its roots it is a call for people to be who they are.

I have come across people who think the LGBT community is getting too much attention; for instance, they say, you don’t see an article with the title, ‘What it means to be straight’. Parents might object to this strange culture their children are being exposed to. You cannot turn someone gay, as our lord and savior Lady Gaga says, “Baby I was born this way!” What we can do is give people solace that there are others like them. That despite the shame which society flings upon them, they are not to be ashamed. They are to take pride and be what they are.

Things aren’t that bad for me personally though, I have found love at times and the people I have come out to have been extremely supportive, even in one instance confessed that they were queer too. In July with Facebook painted rainbow, and my wall plastered with support and jubilation at the supreme court of USA’s judgement; I thought may be the times, they are changing.

Image Credits

Person in city skyline -- by Pexels, released under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license